January 22, 2017
3 Ratings
Photo by Emiko
  • Makes about 50
Author Notes

Torcetti are essentially breadsticks (with a bit of butter added to it for its distinct flakiness), rolled in sugar, twisted into a drop shape, and baked. They are a specialty from Piedmont, in particular around the Biella Valley. Some versions skip the yeast and make them more like cookies, with bicarbonate of soda acting as the rising agent, these are like instant torcetti, as you don't need to wait for the dough to rise. But I like the traditional version using bread dough, and it's no extra work, you just need time for two risings. I'd suggest doing the second rise overnight—pop the bowl into the fridge and let the second rise happen while you're sleeping. The next morning, the buttery dough, thanks to the chill of the fridge, is also easier to handle.

You may like to use raw sugar instead of white sugar for rolling the dough in, for some extra crunch.

Also please note, since flour is such a variable thing, you may or may not need all the water listed here. You may also find you need to add flour to the dough—or you may not. It just depends on how the particular flour you are using absorbs liquids. But this is a forgiving mixture. I'd recommend if you need to correct the flour/water, to do it before the first rise. Later, with the butter, you may find it's only sticky because the butter is so soft, so a bit of chill in the fridge can help. When you roll the dough, you don't want it to be so dry that it doesn't pick up the sugar. If this happens, you can brush the dough strips with water. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 1 teaspoon (7 grams) active dry yeast (or 18 grams fresh yeast)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water, or as needed
  • 4 cups (500 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams or 6 ounces) unsalted European-style butter, softened
  1. Place the yeast in a small bowl with about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the water to dissolve (or soften it, if fresh).
  2. In a large bowl, place the flour, along with 2 tablespoons of the sugar (reserve the rest on a plate for rolling the dough in later) and a pinch of salt. Add the yeast mixture and as much water as you need to bring the flour together to a soft but not sticky dough. Knead lightly for a few minutes then place the dough back in the bowl, cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place in the kitchen for 1 hour.
  3. In the meantime, dice the butter and then beat with electric beaters or mixer until creamy, a few minutes.
  4. Add the softened butter to the risen dough and knead or mix until well-incorporated. It may be sticky at this point, and if excessively sticky, you can add some extra flour until you have a soft and manageable dough. Place back in the bowl, cover it as before and let rise another 1-1 1/2 hours in a warm spot or until doubled. You can also leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight and finish the shaping in the morning (highly recommended).
  5. Feel the dough. If it is very soft and sticky, you can place the dough in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes—this will help harden the butter which makes handling easier. If it's still sticky, add a little flour.
  6. Place the sugar on a surface where you can roll pieces of dough—either on a large flat plate or directly on a clean chopping board or pastry board or countertop.
  7. Heat oven to 390°F (200°C).
  8. Roll out about half of the dough to begin with on a very lightly floured surface into a rectangular shape, ideally about 4 inches (10cm) tall and to a thickness of about 1/3-1/2 inch (1-1.25cm). With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/3 (1 cm) strips and roll each of these strips directly on the sugar. Try to stretch the dough out a little so you have long 'snakes' about double the length of the strips of dough you began with. They should be covered lightly and evenly in the sugar. Bring the ends together and pinch so you have a drop shape. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Continue with the rest of the dough.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool completely and store torcetti in a cookie tin or airtight container.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cheryl Gaston
    Cheryl Gaston
  • Emiko
  • Mondo
  • Jan

9 Reviews

Mondo February 22, 2018
Hi Emiko, when you refrigerate at Step 4 do you just leave the dough in the covered bowl, or do you wrap it?
Thanks for the recipe,
Emiko February 22, 2018
I leave the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl -- it will rise a little bit!
Mondo February 23, 2018
Thanks. These turned out great, but the next day they'd gone soft and overly chewy in my cookie tin. Just a heads up!
Emiko February 27, 2018
Oh yes, like most breads, they are their best the day they are made!
Cheryl G. March 18, 2017
I've been looking for this recipe! One question: if baked the day before, how do you store them so they stay crispy? Can this dough be frozen unbaked? Thanks.
Emiko March 18, 2017
I store them in a cookie tin! An air tight plastic container would probably work too. You can freeze the dough at step 5. Double wrap in plastic wrap and then put in a freezer bag so it doesn't get freezer "burn", which would dry out the dough. When you want to use it again, thaw it completely in the fridge first and then you can start using it at step 6 (and using the dough chilled is actually easier!).
Cheryl G. March 18, 2017
Jan February 9, 2017
Could an acceptable shortcut be to use high quality puff pastry, such as Dufour, for the dough?
Emiko February 12, 2017
Not really, as this isn't a puff pastry dough (in puff pastry the butter isn't just mixed in until combined but added in a layer that you distribute through a series of careful folds through the dough). The results would be quite different and more puffed with puff pastry!